by Kerstan Szczepanski
On Thursday, August 25, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau held a virtual press event to announce “Atlanta Meta World, the first-of-its-kind metaverse experience of a city destination,” as described by the website atlantametaworld.com. This allows a user to take a virtual, interactive tour of Centennial Olympic Park, a 22-acre greenspace located in the heart of downtown Atlanta. One selects an avatar to explore the persistent, photo-realistic representation of the location, which can be done through the Edge and Chrome browsers. And that is just the start for the forward-thinking project.
“The next iteration [of Atlanta Meta World] will focus on our convention center, which happens to be right next to the park; so the meeting planners could walk the convention center and see the exhibit space,” said William Pate, president and CEO of ACVB. “Around the park we have a lot of attractions: the Georgia Aquarium, the College Football Hall of Fame, the World of Coca-Cola, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights,” he continued. “We’d love to build out those experiences as well.” ACVB Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Wilson hopes to have a form of the convention center built out for touring by the end of 2022.
Private meeting rooms will eventually be able to accommodate interactive discussions without Zoom or Skype interface. A meeting planner will be able to tour downtown Atlanta’s facilities, then discuss having an event with ACVB and the planner’s own company in real time. Virtual build-outs can be done to show how a space would be used; all in 3D.
The goal is not to eliminate in-person interactions, but to lead to them. “You would ask are we worried about creating these virtual experiences to the detriment of face-to-face meetings,” Pate said, “but we really think that what will happen is this will be an enhancement. [For example] we have a meeting planner on the west coast who just can’t get to Atlanta, but who could come through [Atlanta Meta World] and see everything, get really excited and sell the idea of bringing their meeting to Atlanta, then that would be followed up with a face-to-face visit, which would allow our sales team to do what they do.”
While Pate does not see Atlanta Meta World replacing the convention experience, he does see the possibility of use in conjunction with a convention, possibly for virtual social gatherings in between in real life meetings. “In a very large convention it can be hard to get people together, but you could tell people ‘we’re going to meet [in the meta world] at three o’clock to decide where to go for dinner.’”
Atlanta Meta World is interoperable with Ready Player Me avatar technology allowing for real time communication with other avatars in voice or (in the future) text. While the number of users in a given instance is limited to 150, multiple instances can co-exist at the same time, leading to a practically unlimited number of users. Individual’s avatars will be customizable, avatar movement will be user controlled, with first and third person view, all while surrounded by ambient downtown Atlanta sound.
Atlanta based companies Exploring Digital and MA Software Systems collaborated on the Unity Software platform that powers Atlanta Meta World.
Youtube link here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8r4hFnJeRs